Invol. Denied Boarding - selection criteria

Discussion in 'General Discussion | Travel' started by HaveMilesWillTravel, Aug 3, 2015.  |  Print Topic

  1. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    The other day I was on an AA (Eagle) CR2 that was almost sold out. After boarding was complete, an agent came onboard and told us that they'd have to take 10 people off the flight due to the hot weather and short runway. They asked for volunteers, offering $500 and guaranteed transportation the next day. They also said that if they didn't find enough volunteers, they would take people off in the order of booking (last booked, first off).

    That seemed odd to me (likely most expensive tickets first?) and I was fully expecting to get called upon since I had only booked the ticket two or three days before the flight. But somehow I "survived".

    Looking at the CoC now, I see that the documented criteria is different from what was announced (and perhaps more logical):

    "In such events, American will usually deny boarding based upon check-in time, but we may also consider factors such as severe hardships, fare paid, and status within the AAdvantage® program."

    I recall reading elsewhere in the past that airlines can use any criteria they want, but have to document it. The AA CoC seems extremely vague here.

    Does anyone know what other carriers use in practice?
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2015
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  2. tom911
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    tom911 Gold Member

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    Here's what UA says:

    http://www.united.com/web/format/pdf/contract_of_carriage.pdf

    Looks like they have a lot of leeway in selecting who to IDB. Would a full-fare passenger trump a 25K level elite member? How about if that full fare passenger is the last to check in? Really can't tell from what they publish. It's been 15 years since I saw anyone IDBd on UA and in that case it was a regional flight and those with elite status were allowed to board and not selected to be removed from the flight. I ended up volunteering but they needed a few more to get off and they were those without status.
     
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  3. Mapsmith
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    Mapsmith Gold Member

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    I have often wondered when they take people off for "weight and balance" is a passenger's weight ever considered?
     
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  4. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I'd imagine that there would be a ton of criteria to consider, depending on the circumstances...

    If the issue is takeoff weight, you'd figure they would get rid of the people with most luggage... seems to be more effective to drop 2 people with 3 checked bags each than a couple of people with carry-on.
     
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  5. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Do they not use a standard weight formula for each passenger, whether they have checked bags or not?
     
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  6. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Basically just as vague (or flexible) as AA. In my recent case I very much doubt that the criteria they announced was actually what they used. But of course no one would be able to prove it.
     
  7. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    I'm sure they do, which is of course stupid because a passenger is not just the person when it comes to weight calculations.
     
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  8. MSPeconomist
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    MSPeconomist Gold Member

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    IIRC W&B considerations and small aircraft are exempt from most of the DOT IDB regulations.

    Still, it doesn't make sense to boot those who purchased last minute expensive tickets, often for time-critical business purposes.
     
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  9. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    HaveMilesWillTravel Gold Member

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    They are not required to pay compensation, but the selection process still applies (the way I read the CoC).

    The $500 voucher offered to volunteers was reasonably generous; not sure that they gave anything to the non-volunteers they booted.

    The reason why I am interested in understanding the actual rules is that I would not have booked this flight if I had known that they might use my last minute booking as a reason to kick me off. It was an unexpected business trip and I absolutely positively had to be at my destination the next day (before the flight they offered as an alternative to booted people).
     
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  10. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    And the guy in the seat next to me easily weighed 50-70 lbs more than me. :(
     
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  11. timfrost

    timfrost Silver Member

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    I'm willing to bet the agents making these decisions look at the whole planeload of people and determine who will be "best" to inconvenience. I'm sure one of the first things they look at is maintaining connections or other hardships the airline could face from denying boarding, then elites, whoever paid more, etc. Maybe even whoever looks nice - might make the conversation a little easier to have. :eek:
     
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  12. viguera
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    viguera Gold Member

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    You'd hope they take all those things into account, but knowing how some of these systems are set up it might just spew out a seat number to kick someone out, and maybe the gate agent is hangry at that particular moment or whatever.
     
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  13. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    It was a small airport with contract agents who probably had to get ready for another carrier's puddle jumper, so not sure how much time they had in digging through the details of every passenger on that flight to determine the appropriate victims. Plus, I thought the whole point of having clearly spelled out rules was to avoid the risk of being accused of discrimination.

    Then again, if they did look at the details, they might have seen that kicking me off would have resulted in a trip in vain (my return flight was scheduled six hours before the arrival of the alternative flight they offered for the next day). So maybe they did. Maybe the computer did, and they just used the "last booked, first out" as a rule for the passengers that was easy to understand and perhaps less likely to create conflicts than if they had mentioned elite status (I have none with AA, though my MVP75 AS status was in the reservation).

    In any case, they ended up bumping a woman who was on the way to see her mom who was about to be disconnected from life support. Quite the drama, and an additional volunteer was found to keep her on the flight. Last time (same airport, different airline) UA tried to kick off a 20-something-year-old who was accompanying his 90+ year-old extremely fragile looking grandpa. That, too, didn't go over well.
     
  14. anileze

    anileze Gold Member

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  15. MSPeconomist
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    Do they pick extremely sympathetic victims and "display" them in an attempt to get more volunteers?
     
  16. HaveMilesWillTravel
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    Not sure why they would do that. I assume the non-volunteers don get any compensation. I think in both cases it was just bad luck.
     

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